As far as table games in Pennsylvania go, Sands Casino Bethlehem has always been the king. However, recent revenue statistics are beginning to shake the casino’s stranglehold over the throne, something that is beginning to become more and more noticeable especially because the decline has been for three straight months.
To begin with, in May 2018, the casino generated $19.6 million in table games revenue – while this was the highest monthly total in its history, it also happened to be a 9.7 percent decline from the $21.7 million that was recorded in May 2017, the casino’s third-best month ever. May 2018 is the third straight month that Sands Bethlehem’s table games revenue is declining when compared to the same period last year. It follows from an almost 20 percent decline that was recorded in and a drop of more than 11 percent that was seen in March.
Confirming the situation was Richard McGarvey, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s (PGCB) spokesperson who pointed out that it was indeed the first time that the casino’s year-on-year table games revenue was declining – the board just recently renewed Sands’ license. This allowed the runners-up, Bucks County-based Parx Casino to begin closing the revenue gap. Table games revenue at Parx Casino jumped by nearly 12.8 percent last month to $16 million – this marks its fourth month of year-on-year gains. Compared to the $7.5 million lead that Sands Bethlehem Casino held over Parx Casino last year, this year’s $3.6 million lead that Sands had over Parx is a rather close shave for the latter.
What Could Be the Reason?
Before anything else, it is worth noting that 2017 was a really good year for Sands Bethlehem’s table games. In fact, the casinos four best months at the tables were all in 2017, and so were its top 11 months.
According to Clyde Barrow’s, a casino expert, there is a pattern in the decline something that was affirmed by a PGCB spokesperson who said that table games figures can fluctuate from month to month unlike the figures for slot machines. From a broader perspective, it turns out that five of Pennsylvania’s 12 casinos had year-over-year declines at the tables in May 2018. Barrow believes that the fact that the decline has been witnessed in five different facilities then it may simply point to the fact that the state table game industry has reached a potential saturation point, that is, where the supply meets the demand.
An alternative thought is equally as viable is the fact that in 2018, Sands Bethlehem has had to deal with a new competitor – Resorts World Catskills. This facility has for the most part not proven to be a huge problem especially considering the underwhelming gambling revenue this far. However, the casino has dedicated approximately 30 percent of its floor Asian-centric table games and slots machines, and now a number of bus operators are offering round-trip services from New York City. Even though it is too early to say that Catskills is indeed siphoning away Sands’ customers, its offerings are good enough to raise speculation, and that is definitely something.